Saturday, January 30, 2010

Ginormous Furniture Epidemic

America has a problem. And it's not healthcare. It's not education. It's not a recession. No, it is an epidemic of ginormous furniture. Furniture that only fits in ginormous houses, and could seat the entire army of a small country.

Do you know how hard it is to find furniture to fit in a 10x10 living room? Next to impossible. When I first set up our living room (after taking over a former bachelor pad, bridezilla that I was), I used a futon as a couch, which was a good scale for the room.

But it didn't offer the amount of seating we need to host our friends, which we do quite often. So when our friend asked us to keep his couches for awhile, we jumped at the chance.

Mylanta. Looks like Gandalf in Frodo's house. Giant! But they are super comfy, allow enough seating for our wild parties, and enough room for Mr. Wonderful and I to cuddle. AND we don't have to commit to them, which is awesome.

I've spent a fair bit of time looking for smaller scale furniture, and there's not much out there. But here is what I would get if I could afford it:

a) because I have a thing for red couches

b) because a sectional sofa offers a lot of seating

c) because it has a sleeper included, and multitasking is a great feature for any piece in a small space

d) it is probably the only comfortable style of couch that I've tried at IKEA. Probably because I'm 5'1". I look like Edith Ann sitting on those things!

Also, good news! Remodeling Guy is back! Check out this great resource! Here is the original inspiration, 20 Reasons I Love a Tiny House.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Using Vertical Space

Small houses don't always have a lot of horizontal space in them. And sometimes half of your horizontal space is taken up by a Jumparoo (God bless the day I realized it folded up!). So you've gotta get creative. We used to stack our colander in with our mixing bowls, and it drove me BONKERS. But I do think it's kind of a cute colander, so I didn't mind displaying it. Aaaaand look how cute my new $2 Goodwill curtains are: They have cherries on them! I think they are very cottage-y, no?

We also got one of those nifty knife magnets from the IKEA. And put it on our backsplash area. Then I hung up our measuring cups and spoons from our cabinets. Our cabinets hang very low, and there is only about 14 inches between it and the countertops, so it isn't very good workspace anyway. It works for us, and that is the goal.
And as if you needed any proof about Ava getting into our movie stash, here it is. So innocent with her ruffle butt!

And one more reason small homes are good homes is that you don't have to spend as much on cleaning supplies! One toilet, one shower, fewer horizontal surfaces to dust. It's a win-win. Not to mention the savings on heat! Now get out there and live in your small house!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Nook and Cranny Usage

Nooks and crannies are extremely important in the Small House Love style. It isn't always pretty, but it is a ton better than having stuff falling out of your closets, which is what was happening with my paper bags. So now I stuff them between the refrigerator and the wall. And they stay put! One of my favorite bonuses of living in a small space is having less to clean. Who doesn't love that? I mean, can you imagine cleaning these windows? (Though they are BEAUTIFUL.)

Someday I'll figure out how to put an actual picture in instead of a link. Don't you worry!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Book storage

I hate, hate, hate to have a cluttered nightstand. Okay, well my nightstand is actually our dresser, but it is close enough to our bed to be a nightstand. I also have quite a reading habit. So I tend to get a "tower" of books on my bedside table. Sound familiar to any of you?

Well, it hit me one day that there is a handy little gap between the side rails and the mattress on our bed. And I'm sure lots of beds out there. It is the perfect place for a book. At least a book that isn't too long. If it's Harry Potter, you're on your own! Now that we put our bedskirt on, they are all hidden too! Another reason to love small homes is that your kids can't hide too much of their lives from you. It forces a family to be closer together when they can't go off to their own quarters. Poor Ava. She will have all those boys chasing after her, and I'll be able to hear every word she says over the phone (or whatever technology exists then. Probably it'll be the ibrain and people will just send their thoughts to each other's minds. Ugh, I'll never be able to keep up!

Those darn pot lids!

Ugh. Our pot lids used to be strewn about inside our cupbords. Granted, this is not a Pottery Barn fix, but it IS a $1.50 fix and it takes much less time to find our pot lids. It's just a plastic dish drainer.
In the spirit of small house love, another reason that Remodeling guy gives to love living in a small space is that it motivates you to create outdoor spaces to live in, like this:

Ugh! Calgon take me away! Easy for YOU to say, Remodeling Guy! It's probably not 2 degrees where you live....:0) It does get me thinking about creating a space outside for this summer. Only four more months....

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Small House Love

So one of the things I want to blog about is living in a small home. I got a great perspective on this from a blog called Remodeling Guy which, sadly, is no more. But he shared a lot of reasons why living in small home is great. One of the reasons is that it forces you to be organized. I am learning a lot about organization, and to impart a few ideas to you all, I will be featuring a short series on keeping organized in 700 square feet. Okay, thankfully, we have a basement and garage for extra storage, but we live in about 700 square feet. The title of the series is a nod to one of my favorite blogs, Young House Love.

Here is our collection of DVDs. As you can see, we have been storing them on the bottom shelf of our entertainment center. With a daughter on the cusp of crawling, we realized this will have to change. She is already scooting over there and chewing on the cases. I picked up a couple of CD cases from Goodwill for about $1.50 a piece and we will put all the DVD cases into "deep storage" (aka a box in the basement) . Our collection of movies will be much more streamlined and out of reach of The Bird (Ava).
Much better!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Our colorful HUGE homemade rag rug

So here is the infamous rug! I got the idea to make a rug last summer (July or August or something). In my quest to de-bachelorize the house, I convinced Mr. Wonderful that we should take up the...less than ideal calico carpet in our living room. If only I had a before picture. Underneath the carpet was some wood floors. They were a big improvement, and I liked them for us, but they are kind of rough and I didn't like the thought of Ava's knees getting scraped up on them. Refinishing is not in the plans for now. So I wanted to get an area rug for the room. It is about 10x10, so a big one would probably cover almost the whole floor.

Looking online at rugs was a little discouraging. Being a one-income family, we are on a tight budget, and even ikea was over it! I stumbled upon a blog tutorial about how to make rugs. It was such a revelation to me that you don't have to buy everything! So...many more tutorials, online videos, blogs, books from the library, practice, ripping out, trial, trial trial, error, error, error and here it is! I won't try to do a tutorial, because there re some good ones out there already, but this is simply strips of fabric crocheted in a circle pattern. I used a half=double crochet stitch and a huge needle. I used cotton sheets from thrift stores (22, plus a few pillowcases, table cloths and random fabric). I picked a few colors, stayed away from too much white, and I liked the vintage-y looking prints. It took about 4 months. I wish I could say that it was about the process and enjoying the relaxing art of crochet (which I hadn't done since my grandma taught me a chain stitch when i was about 10), but no, pretty much it was about saving money and getting it done before Ava started crawling. But I do like the end result!
In the end, I estimate I spent about $60-$70 on the fabric. It ended up being 7 feet diameter. Here is Ava playing on it!
Isn't she having fun??? Here I've captured a bad mom moment. That is her with her legs caught in the straps of the Baby Bjorn. Mental note....

Monday, January 18, 2010

Our Apartment Therapy kitchen island

Woot! I'm so excited about this post! Can you tell???

This is part two of the kitchen island post. Part one is Sneak Peek.

We got this dresser from Grand Repeats in Wausau. When I told Gloria, one of the owners, that I was planning to repurpose a dresser into a kitchen island, she got super excited and showed me a few pieces. This one was out in their garage, which means that they hadn't done any work to it, and sold it to us as is. They were great to work with!

Just as a reminder, here is the dresser after we took out the drawers and knocked off the top:

Since they sold it to us as is, Mr. Wonderful had to do a little work to the structure of the drawers to make them more sturdy. After that we did some light sanding, and I started priming. I also primed the towel bar and corbels that we bought:

After the priming, we did two coats of paint. We chose Behr "Happy Camper." Isn't that the best name for a paint color? I ended up attaching the towel bar before the second coat, because as you can tell from the picture above, it was kind of awkward to paint without smudging it.

After that, we attached the corbels to the back side of the dresser. The back isn't flat, but it still worked.

Meet my handsome handyman:

Handsome handyman did something with dowels in the corbels to attach the top. Boy I wish I had asked him more about this step right now. It involved wood glue, making a hole in the top of the corbel, and.....yeah:

The dresser already had casters, but we replaced them with these antique-y beauties from Home Depot. They are much smoother than the old ones. We decided on casters because you are technically supposed to have 36 inches on each side of a kitchen island and we don't (small house love!). So if we need to shove it over to get around it, it's no problem!

For the top, we found a piece of edge-glued board from Home Depot that looked like butcher block, stained and shellac-ed it, and pieced it together for the top. The thing that made butcher block sooooo expensive for this project was the custom size. Most countertop material comes in a standard width, but since we wanted a breakfast bar, cost was prohibitive. So, Mr. Wonderful used the corbels and some "T" brackets underneath to put the edges together:

Here is a shot showing off the adorable drawer liners I found at the Dollar Store. I love the vintage-y print:

And here is the final product! We looooove the extra counter space and look of our kitchen island. All together, the island cost about $200 and the chairs were another $100. I saw something sort of similar today for $550 WITHOUT the stools or the breakfast bar extension.

Thanks for reading!!!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Christmas Re-cap

We enjoyed a GREAT Christmas. We went and visited my side of the family in Moorhead, Minnesota. Here is a picture of my siblings and I with our grandparents. Check out our fabulous tie-dyed couture courtesy of my fabulous and crafty sister: Mr. Wonderful, Ava and I. Ava had already, ahem, soiled her tie dye :0(
Ava with Great Grandma and Grandpa and her younger (by 3 weeks) cousin Devin:
Grandpa sporting his normal attire (he's quite an accessorizer):
Ava with her really special stocking. Ava's middle name is Yvonne, named after my wonderful aunt, who passed away in 2002. My uncle sent her stocking for Ava and Mom embroidered Ava's name above hers. What a wonderful way to remember her!
Ava with Grandma in the special outfit Grandma bought her for Christmas.
SO BLESSED! We are headed out of town for the weekend for a retreat with our Bible study peeps. Super pumped. Have a good one!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

God time

Probably the most important thing I can do each day is spend time with God. I used to be really good at it and never thought I would ever fall out of the practice. I have though, sometimes since I got married and especially since having Ava. And it is so incredibly vitally important to pray for your spouse and your children. I know this. So I started up a prayer journal this summer, which has really helped. However, I have found myself lately treating it as something to cross off my list.

The other night I was thinking back to a time when I was in the middle of a difficult time and I couldn't see the other side of it, but I still knew that God was faithful. I knew that God was teaching me something through it. And He did. He taught me how to trust Him and to seek Him out. It really struck me how close I am to God when I go through trials, but once they are over I go on about my life. I realized that I treat Him like a genie. How do you abide so closely with God when you don't FEEL that urgent need? How do you come before God in reverance and love every single day in a groove and not make it a rut?

Here are a couple of thoughts I have had so far:

1. Remember the cross and your position to it.

Here is a verse from an amazing song that has been running through my head for a couple of days:

I once was lost in darkest night and thought I knew the way
The sin that promised joy and life had led me to the grave
I had no hope that You would own a rebel to Your will
And if You had not loved me first I would refuse You still

Hallelujah! All I have is Christ!
Hallelujah! Jesus is my life!

We can be the recipients of undeserved grace if we choose. As a former pastor of mine quoted "You contribute nothing to your salvation but your sin."

Our pastor's wife leads a book study that I go to on Tuesday. She is a wonderful lady, and whenever she talks about the Gospel you can see that she is continually broken by her sin and thankful to God for sending Jesus to die for that sin. That is a place I want to live my life.

"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise"

Psalm 51:17

2. Even if you don't feel an urgent need for prayer in your own life, somebody else does.

I think it's really important to ask God to bring to mind other people who need prayer. I have a running list of people I pray for every time I journal, but at the end I try and listen and think about who else might need prayer.

Speaking of prayer, I'd better go journal!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Sneak Peek

Hi there,

It's the middle of the night and I can't sleep. So I decided I would write a post. I don't know what it will be about yet. Shoot.

I guess I could do a teaser post for our new kitchen island. I haven't taken or downloaded all the pictures I want to for the after, but I think I have a couple of the pictures from the process.

So in our house, we have one of those kitchens that just takes up one wall, which equals not much counter space. We were also borrowing a kitchen table, and the owners of said table wanted it back. So, we were looking for counterspace and dining space. I found a great idea on where you use a dresser and repurpose it into a kitchen island. I figured it would be easy enough to extend the countertop to include a breakfast bar (weelllll, maybe I figured it would be easy enough for Mr. Wonderful to do it....) and that would take care of our dining issue. So we bought an antique dresser at a lovely store named Grand Repeats here in Wausau, Mr. Wonderful fixed it up, I painted it and we love it!

Here's the dresser (with the drawers and top removed):

We priced butcher block for the top, but it was ridonkeykong (30 Rock anyone?) expensive. I thought about doing enamel, galvanized tin sheeting, or trying to find a remnant of granite, but I really wanted the warmth of wood.

One thing I considered was getting a Craftsman butcher block workbench top I saw advertised at Sears. I don't know if it's the same as a countertop, but it was much less expensive.

Buuuut, we ended up finding edge glued boards at Home Depot that had the look of butcher block. We sanded 'em up, stained 'em and then used shellac that we had left over from a different project. The shellac isn't perfect, but then again it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful. From what I've read the finish might cloud up with water damage, but it can be re-done or we'll find a different solution.

Anywhooo, I should probably try sleeping again, but I'd hate to leave you without giving you some eye candy, here is the most beautiful thing in the world:

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

lamp re-do

So here is an example of a project I did this fall. The lamps we had in our living room were given to me by my parents (Thanks Mom and Dad!) when I moved to Wisconsin. They were bean pot lamps, and were pretty neutral, but took up a lot of space on our side tables and were about 20 years old. I bought some new lamps on a whim when I saw them at a garage sale this summer ($1 apiece!), but they didn't come with shades. So they looked like this:

I figured I could pick up some simple ones at a thrift store, but it turns out thrift stores only have nasty mismatched lampshades with gold trimming. Who'd have thunk? So it occurred to me one day that maybe I could rip off the accordion style plastic around the bean pot lampshades and recover them. There are a lot of tutorials online that I found. Of course, it didn't end up to be quite as easy as all that, but I'm happy with the way they turned out.

First I had to get the accordion off. I would recommend using one of those exacto knifes. The biggest trouble I had was how to cover up the discoloration from the glue that was used to put the accordion on. It was kind of all over the place. And I really wanted to use white fabric to recover the shade so we got the most light, as we primarily use the lamps for light (we much prefer that to overhead light). So I tried spray paint, but it didn't really do the trick. I ended up using two layers of fabric, which mostly worked.

Anyway, then I made a template with butcher paper by holding a pencil by the seam of the lampshade and tracing with it as I rolled the lampshade around until I got back to the seam. I did this on the top and bottom. I'd recommend cutting a little past the lines, because it was not an exact fit.

I used broadcloth for the first layer and then some lovely fabric I got on sale at Joann's for the outer layer.

I cut out the fabric according to the template and then used spray fabric adhesive to shape it to the lampshade.

Then I folded the fabric over the edges. Clothespins were indispensable for this process.

I trimmed them with matching grosgrain ribbon using my hot glue gun (Thanks Rach!) around the top. I thought about yellow, but I thought it might be too Disney. And I figured if my $1 lamps bit the dust I could use the shades for some gold leaf thrift store lamps in the future. :0)

Here's the after!

Monday, January 4, 2010

We've Only Just Begun...


I've been thinking about this blog for awhile, so here we (finally) go! I'm excited to get started with some posts about life here on Walnut Street. I know life with a new baby is nothing new, but it is such a sweet time and we are really trying to savor it. The smell of freshly washed baby hair, giggles with Daddy, snuggling up, it is all such an amazing blessing.

One of the frustrating parts of being a SAHM for me has been the lack of structure. I've been able to carve out a rough schedule for us, which has made me much more comfortable, and given me time to take on some projects around the house and kept me from watching soap operas and eating bonbons during naptime :0)

I expect this blog will be a mix of Ava stories/news/pictures for friends and family, diy projects, things that God is teaching me, ideas for frugality, recipes, small house love, and parenting thoughts. In short, not a theme-y blog. Just a way for me to get my thoughts out, accountability for my time, and communication. I'm excited to see what God has in store!